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Elegant Pendulum Pump Could Help Third World Water Supply

If you’re familiar with steampunk, some of this will be familiar ground. It’s a new high-tech, hand-powered water pump based on the pendulum, an ancient device popularized in the Victorian era and made notorious as an instrument of hair-raising torture by steampunk great-great grandfather Edgar Allan Poe (yeah, we know there were others, but he’s our fave)

In this case, we’re talking about a company called Gravitational Energy Corporation (GEC), which uses a high effficiency pendulum to translate human effort into a far greater outcome than the typical hand pump could achieve. The new device, called the GP210, has potential use in parts of Africa and other regions where water delivery remains an enormous stumbling block to community health.

hand-powered water pump gets boost from pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum – Remix!

Where Poe’s imagination saw the pendulum as a thing of evil, the folks at GEC contacted CleanTechnica to let us know how the GP210 can be put to work in disaster relief as well as for the long haul. The pendulum itself is only four feet long and weighs only 40 pounds, and the rest is easily transportable equipment that can be set up on a trailer or a stationary platform.

A couple of years ago, the company put a GP210 to the test in a project with the childrens’ advocacy and disaster relief organization One Life Missions Foundation, to help after the earthquake in Haiti.

According to the company, the device produced drinking water for about 4,000 people on a daily basis, requiring only about three hours of operation. The company states that it can pump about 1,000 gallons of water per hour with “minimal effort.”


Pendulum Powered Pump — How it Works

GEC isn’t the only company betting on pendulum power. A while back, CleanTechnica talked about a Serbian invention that combines a lever and a pendulum to produce impressive energy gains.

The basic idea is fairly straightforward. You expend a measure of extra effort to start the pendulum (say, with a couple of extra helpers if necessary), and after that it takes a relatively small amount of work to keep it going indefinitely. Gravity does the rest, adding a lot of extra oomph to the human operator’s work.

In other words, don’t confuse this with a perpetual motion device. There is going to be some energy input, but in regions where fuel is scarce or expensive that is a relatively minor consideration. A relatively simple device like the GP210 could help provide more flexibility in terms of time, strength, and the distribution of work in a community. These are all critical factors when water needs to be hand-pumped, and often hauled by hand, too.

The GP210 takes it to the next level with the patented Feltenberger Pendulum, named for inventor and GEC co-founder Bruce Feltenberger.

According to GEC, the Feltenberger Pendulum incorporates two major improvements. One is a nearly frictionless pivot point, and the other is a moveable axle that slides in and out horizontally as the pendulum swings back and forth.

The axle is attached to a rod-and-piston pump, and there you have it.

But wait, there’s more. If needed, the GP210 can also run on conventional fuel, and GEC sells a version of it packaged with a high-efficiency water filtration system.

Bringing a Pendulum to a Gunfight

We’ve been following the U.S. military’s rapid adoption of alternative energy, so it didn’t surprise us to learn that a company called DriPowder LLC is marketing the GP210 as a general-purpose pump ideal for military use.

Somewhat ironically, the same characteristics that would make the pump attractive to the Department of Defense also come into play for disaster relief.

The GP210 requires no fuel, operates in virtual silence, and produces drinking water from practically any fresh water source. It can also be modified to hook up to a flywheel, a drill, or other small-scale hydraulic devices.

When used to power a generator, the device can produce enough electricity for laptops, LED lighting, communications equipment, and battery recharging.

For what it’s worth, the GP210 also produces no heat signature.

Image: Pendulum by ‘|’||’| ‘|'[]||{

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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